tv U.S. Senate CSPAN March 11, 2010 9:00am-12:00pm EST
go about not having a lot of foreclosures where we don't have to have them on the commercial side? >> it is still going to be a big challenge, commercial real-estate challenges. it will take awhile to work through this problem. we have put in place a series of programs, you are familiar with, to help ease the adjustment process. it is still going to be very difficult. one of the reasons we proposed this is to make sure we are getting capital to small community banks that are still the most hardest hit by what is happening in commercial real-estate. we think that mix of programs to get capital the banks who need it and to support efforts to get the securities markets more liquid again is the best thing that we can do to ease that transition. it is going to be difficult for a time. k to you about it. >> i have an idea. i would be interested in whether there could be dialogue about what we might be able to do in that area.
thank you. >> mr. chairman, i want to end where the congressman began. i think it's important to recognize that, of course, banks are different. not all institutions were the same, but i would say across the american financial system you saw banks and finance companies doing things that caused a the trust and confidence of their customers, of the americans, the investors and of people around the world. i think they have a long way to go. i'd like to see them all doing more to help restore basic trust and confidence in their customers and the american people. you highlighted examples of things peoplare we can see a lot more of it. a lot more to do. one thing is to get financial reform passed. we have strong protection that deal with the too big to fail problem.
it is a good thing for the future of the american economy. we are hopeful they will work to get a strong package of reforms in place as the house passed. >> with my $3 billion emergency mortgage foreclosure intact. >> you have proposed seven bills. >> this has already passed by the house and the wall street reform bill. >> the secretary promised a rigorous examination of this idea. >> to tear apart a careful balance. >> any idea should be able to withstand the amount. >> mr. secretary, the bailout bill which passed the bush said ministration which i voted against strenuously opposed, did contain language with a requirement that t.a.r.p. money repaid to the treasury be used
for deficit reduction which i wanted to attack -- you agree that is important? >> we have taken back where placed with private money more than two thirds of the investments -- he did the right thing. we have gotten back two thirds of that. more than the $170 million of americans money. under the law as written that goes to reduce our deficits and our debt and should not be allocated for any other purpose. congress can decide what it does with the resources we give them but we save substantial resources for the american people and would like to work with you to make sure we are devoting those to the right price for the country and we face these two priorities which are getting the country back on track and digging out of that fiscal hole we inherited.
>> we inherited a fiscal hole. [talking over each other] >> uw hold three times deeper. >> that is not true. when we came into office -- >> you dug the hole much deeper. >> we tried to rescue an economy that was in collapse. the financial system on the edge of failure. we did that in the most careful effective way we could. >> the annual budget was $1 trillion and in 2008 was $1.1 trillion and 2009 was $1.2 trillion and yet in 12 months or 13 months the obama administration has been in office your administration and the nancy pelosi led congress have managed to spent in the
course of a single year, you signed $3.3 trillion worth of new spending in the law. >> i would be happy -- >> less time than any congress in the history of the united states. it defies common sense for this administration to pretend you are paying any attention to deficit reduction. anyway that you are -- >> it doesn't -- faced with the worst economy in generations, the president and congress acted. if we had not acted we would have calm and -- fall off the cliff. our deficits would have been more. you care about fiscal responsibility. there is no way you could have argued the government should stand back and let this economy collapsed. that would have been far more costly. to the fortunes of average americans across the country.
there is no fiscal irresponsible strategy in a crisis that would have justified standing back -- >> let's set aside the bailout because that happened under the bush watch. i'm sure that is what you're referring to. stimulus bill $787 billion, be on the best the additional $449 billion. the supplemental $105 billion. consolidated appropriations 446. the level of spending is unprecedented. the level of debt you have asked our kids to pay off is unprecedented. >> it is -- >> it is important -- we want you to live up to what your words are. we have not seen it. >> we get to debate what makes sense for the american people. you can look at the actions we proposed and say you would have preferred we do nothing or more tax cuts or other things but we put in place a set of well
designed targeted measures that were absolutely essential to break the back of the worst economic crisis in generations and we are at the beginning of healing the damage done. i completely agree with you. we have to recognize and make sure the american people understand we have to dig our way out of this hole. >> by spending more money? >> the president's budget proposes specific measures on the tax side and expenditure side to bring deficits down dramatically over the next four years. >> you agree the. tax cuts should expire? >> we propose to allow -- [talking over each other] >> we propose to allow the tax cuts on the most fortunate 3% of americans to expire as scheduled in 2011. we have also proposed a freeze on non-defense discretionary measures and other measures to cut spending over that period of
time and some of those proposals will cut our deficit to below 4% of gdp in four years. you may propose different ways to do it or more aggressive ways to do it, but the basic imperative we share is to recognize that deficits matter. >> i appreciate your vigorous defense of the administration's proposals but this is why the country is so upset. what you say it doesn't square with your actions. >> we are proposing -- >> more money and less time than any congress in history. you have given the deficits to unprecedented levels that you are trying to sell a bill of goods to the country claiming you will create the mother of all entitlements, and we are going to save you money? no one believes that. >> don't expect you to agree but we get to -- >> that is why the november election is going to be a tidal
wave. >> everything that went wrong on january 20th of last year. [talking over each other] >> you had a chance to pull us out of afghanistan which will cost as a trillion dollars. see how fiscal conservatives vote on that. you through into package the omnibus bill. if i recall, that was the regular appropriation bill that we pass every year. you were saying we should shutdown government. >> i had a problem with the 85% increase in non-defense discretionary spending over the course of the last two years. >> could i say one thing? this is fun for both of us. >> we are enjoying this. we get along very well. that is what makes it a great country. >> with all due respect to both of you this is quite an accomplishment. he said nothing on immigrants
today. >> i want to point out one thing about this that is important to recognize. and the president's budget, we propose to leave non discretionary -- non-defense discretionary expenditures, the measure of discretionary government four years out at the level -- same level in real terms that we inherited in the last year of the bush administration. we are proposing enough restraint to make sure these temporary things we did to save the economy from collapse go away and we bring ourselves down to a size of government taking dug defensive security that is where it was in real terms when we came into office. >> four years from now. >> if you would like to get there overnight we're happy to work with you but we will try to get there by restraining expenditures in a way that is careful and balanced and allows us to come out and he'll the damage caused by this crisis.
i am glad to hear -- making the vigorous case for fiscal responsibility. we need to have more people do it. >> you will enjoy this. one quick follow-up. do you still have the zimbabwe bank note in your wallet? >> i am glad you raised that because i remember the exchange from last year. you showed me the pink version. i have a better one. >> i had a $50 billion banknote and i was impressed that the secretary had a trillion dollars, $10 trillion banknote from zimbabwe. we are going to help you get those deficits under control and balanced. >> good for people like you to make the case that deficits matter. glad to hear you say it. >> what i know about capitalism is every so often you have to invest to make things happen and
other folks without investing, government investing, at the end of the day you will get a good return. mr. secretary, on march 4th of last year you stated the administration has laid out a clear path forward to helping us to nine million families restructure or refinance mortgages to a payment that is affordable. now and into the future. unfortunately the latest treasury report shows only 116,000 homeowners have received permanent mortgage relief. the result has been millions of homeowners have been forced out of their homes through foreclosures and short sales. can you take a moment to explain what happened between your optimistic forecast and the reality of what has occurred? >> the program we announced initially to help modify mortgages for a set of americans facing the risk of losing their house, we thought overtime would
reach perhaps 3.5 million americans and that program in its initial treatment white has provided substantial relief to 1 million families across the country. on average almost $600 in lower monthly payments to reduce their mortgage obligations. now we are seeing a substantial number of those converted to permanent modifications but the numbers that matters now is a million and the million is growing. >> what was the 116,000? >> the number of permanent today. when you get a temporary modification, your mortgage obligations get reduced substantially right from that point. of course we want to see people eligible for permanent modifications get permanent modifications but for people -- it is now million families across the country, seeking immediate substantial sustained
reduction in their mortgage obligations so they have a chance of staying in their homes and we will make sure we see as many people as we can. the numbers still growing and we will make sure as many of those temporary modifications are converted into permanent as possible. we are committed to doing that. we are seeing the numbers increased dramatically. >> let me make a suggestion to issue another report that tells us what you just told us so people don't rely on the other thing that they know because i am asking my question based on that information. >> we did not claim we would reach nine million americans with that program. we thought it would reach 3-1/2. we may not reach that target but that was over a three year period of time. architect of the program say we are on track to hit those initial deductive but we will try to reach as many people as we can. >> in the 2011 budget proposal for the cdfi fund you propose
phasing out two programs, the bank enterprise award program which provides assistance to banks that have demonstrated increased lending activity and low-income neighborhoods and the capital magna fund which provides competitive grants for construction of constructing and preserving and rehabilitating affordable housing in low income neighborhoods as well as other economic development projects in communities where the housing in question is located. would you please explain why the administration made the decision not to request funding for these two programs? >> governing requires making choices among competing priorities. what you need to expect us to do is take a look at these programs and make sure we are allocating resources where they have the highest return. after careful selection with the knowledge -- to cut funding,
these resources would be better used in supporting the signature program which has so much support across the country. the simplest way to say it is we took a careful look and we thought those resources would be better used in support of the cdfi program. i am confident that is the right judgment but we are making choices and trying to demonstrate to you that will will reuse -- we will use these resources carefully and we will take a careful look at programs that even if they helped provide high enough return for the resources we are providing. >> just for the record it doesn't sit well with me or other members of the congress that the first page of my questions to you asked why cuts to the programs serving low-income taxpayers and i am asking you similar questions. either i am asking all the questions on one side or we are taking hits and directing hits at the low income --
>> on balance we have proposed a significant expansion in these two signature programs which are the cdfi program and tax market program for reasons we both agreed, these programs have a great record of reaching some of the hardest-hit communities in our country with a good record of success leveraging private money to help make sure our taxpayer dollars are used effectively. they go to institutions with a good record of lending in their communities. we are increasing our investments and reforming how we use them in ways to make them more effective. >> one last question and i will submit the others. it is getting to that crunch time here. in the last year banks have reduced their credit outstanding to commercial and industrial businesses by 20% or $300 billion. when business moves access to
credit they prolong our efforts in economic recovery. recently the financial class has reported that the financial service sector has paid out $100 billion in bonuses in the last couple months. what do you think will be required for business lending in this country? do you agree that the obscene amount of money handed out for bonuses could increase credit and -- in our struggling economy by hundreds of billions of dollars? >> what you have seen happen in terms of credit is a mix of two things. you saw demand for credit fall sharply as the economy slowed and contracted and you have seen a substantial reduction in credit bank supply, both of those things are happening but it is starting to -- the best measure of whether credit is getting easier or tighter is the price of a loan and the cost of credit has come down
dramatically across the country for a family or municipal government and that is a measure of progress we have achieved in healing the damage caused by the financial system. what you have seen happen in competition across the ministry is an acceptable and we are working hard to use our authority in congress to provide durable reforms in how financial executives are compensated so they don't have the incentive to take a bunch of risks to leave the american people holding the bag. we have seen some progress but not enough and we will work to make sure we have reforms that will ensure we don't get in a mess like this again. >> i know you realize part of the lack of public confidence in what we are doing is -- [talking over each other] >> absolutely. >> one last point and won't make all the comments before the question. the whole issue of t.a.r.p. and
the public feeling that the money is not going to the right place. with 20/20 hindsight what more could have been done from the onset of t.a.r.p. to ensure greater transparency and accountability in a way that top dollars would be used? >> it is hard for me to say that even with the benefit of hindsight. let me tell you what we are committed to. we made sure we put the precise financial terms of all the investments we made in the public domain on our web site for everybody to see from the beginning. we adopt a range of proposals by the various overseers to improve transparency of this basic program. we put in place a dramatic improvement in the basic access to american information about these programs, where the resources went and the term they were provided and we will continue to work to do that.
the important thing to reflect on as you look at how this program was run is we have gotten back $170 billion from the financial system. we have reduced expected losses by $400 billion from where they were a year ago. substantial resources for the american people to devote to our long term fiscal challenge. we have done this at lower cost than people expected and we have seen a dramatic improvement in credit conditions across the country. the american people can look at that record and see the detailed numbers on the return and risk of losses where that is concentrated and you see the benefits where they are. there are a lot of challenges ahead of us in housing markets and commercial real-estate. we won't make the mistake many countries have made which is to r(t&háhp &hc% beforeç we have healed the dame and this crisis caused a huge amount of damage.
>> i understand. we have no questions. >> let me ask about freddie and fannie. i have to go speak against the war, save some money. >> that is always good. to save money. >> i wanted to ask about freddie and fannie in particular. the congress put limits on the liability of the taxpayers and treasury had the authority to do so. those caps on the amount of exposure, we have not seen a reform proposal out of the administration and the scale of losses are both immense. this is a very scary situation and as a fiscal conservative i certainly don't like to see the taxpayers put on the hook for this particularly in a limited way. tell us what the
administration's time frame is, why we are waiting to see reform and what will it and failed to provide protection for your kids and my kids? >> what we have suggested is we are going to put in public domain some broad objectives and principles to guide reform. we put out a sense of questions for public comment. this is a complicated issue that doesn't involve just freddie and fannie. we are going to look at the entire set of government agencies in the housing market and the set of policies that help contribute to this terrible crisis and our expectation is as we go through the process of public hearing and, and we will put together proposals for reform as we present to the congress next year. you asked why not now? we are doing a lot of things. we have a lot going on. to do it well and carefully, we wanted to go through a process
of more careful reflection. if we rushed it the risk is we would not achieve enough or get consensus but i will tell you my personal commitment. we will need fundamental reform in the housing market not just in fannie and freddie but looking across the range of policies and what we allowed to happen was a national tragedy. it was unavoidable. it was unavoidable and we should never have let those take up risk without capital to back them or credible oversight. it is a terrible thing. >> the sooner the better. liabilities are a concern and it is important to ask, we haven't touched on the commercial market. we are about to see a tremendous number of resets of commercial mortgages and a lot of properties have been dramatically devalued. valuations have plummeted.
a lot of vacancies and businesses are left. banks are so spooky about real-estate loans and we have potentially another tidal wave coming. what is the administration doing? it is an important question. what is the administration doing to mitigate the size of the commercial reset tsunami which we see coming which is conceivable as big or if not bigger than the residential mortgage? >> it is still a challenge and a big part of it is ahead of us. as i said to your colleague earlier the two things that are most effective are to make sure we are getting capital to banks and these community banks facing substantial exposure to commercial real-estate and that will help but we want to make sure we are helping provide more liquidity to securitization markets that are helpful in this context. they have been helpful so far
and made some impact so far but there's a lot of challenge. >> a suggestion i will pass. the chairman has been gracious in indulging extra time. i am hearing this consistently from the smaller banks that regulators are being unnecessarily aggressive in attempting to force banks to get real estate off of their portfolios and it is not a good idea. regulators are part of the problem. you want to make sure the loans are prudent and they will be repaid. i have a tremendous number of blue-chip borrowers with stable credit histories who never missed a payment and banks are turning down loans because they are being hammered by regulators to get real estate off of -- you know what i am talking about? what can you do about that? just giving breathing room to the banks on the regulation
side. if it is a safe investment in real-estate the guy always paid his bills were seen reduction in the valuation but keep learning money. what can you do? >> it is a serious concern that i hear a cross-country. this is a matter for the fdic and the fed. we are encouraging them to continue to provide more care and balance to get examiners across the country. they are not contributing to it. they put guidance. >> other members will submit questions for the record. we thank you for your time and your direct çanswers. weç want to work closely with u to make sure the recovery is strong and the things you
[inaudible conversations] >> sunday, your chance to talk to carl rove on booktv at 10:00 eastern. this former senior adviser to president bush and current fox news contributor will take your phone calls on his new memoir courage and consequence. former defense secretary and senator bill cohen and wife janet on wife relations in america. they are interviewed by congressman john lewis and all this weekend live coverage of this year's tucson festival of books. find the entire weekend special last booktv.org and get the latest booktv updates on twitter. we take you live to the u.s. capitol as the senate convenes for morning business. a period for speeches on any topic and work resumed on federal aviation administration programs. an authorization bill that has been stalled since july.
it compares a bills and -- passengers bill of rights and a board to speed the transition to a new satellite based air-traffic control system. over in the house members plan to work on an impeachment resolution concerning a louisiana judge with a final vote expected today. that will begin in 30 minutes at 10:00 eastern on c-span. now live coverage on c-span2. the presiding officer: the senate will come to order.
the chaplain dr. barry black will lead the senate in prayer. the chaplain: let us pray. lord of life, we praise and magnify your name. forgive us when we give less and expect more. teach our lawmakers to give you their best so that they may receive from you beyond their dreams. may they prepare for the decisions of this day by opening their minds to the inflow of your spirit. in all their getting, guide them
to seek understanding. make them fruitful, always reaping a harvest that glorifies you. lord, give light to all who are in darkness, and lift us by your mercy. we pray in your loving name. amen. the presiding officer: please join me in reciting the pledge of allegiance. i pledge allegiance to the flag of the united states of america, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. the presiding officer: the clerk will read a communication to the senate.
the clerk: washington, d.c., march 11, 2010. to the senate: under the provisions of rule 1, paragraph 3, of the standing rules of the senate, i hereby appoint the honorable kirsten e. gilligrand, a senator from the state of new york, to perform te duties of the chair. signed: robert c. byrd, presidet pro tempore. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: following leader remarks there will be a period of morning business for an hour. senators allowed to speak for ten minutes each during that period of time. following that morning business, we'll resume consideration of the federal aviation administration re-authorization legislation. we have two amendments pending, the sessions amendment and the lieberman amendment. senators will be notified when any votes are scheduled.
mr. mcconnell: madam president? the presiding officer: the republican leader. mr. mcconnell: as democratic leaders in congress continue to insist we're at some make or break moment in the health care debate and that for some reason we need to pass a bill that raises taxes, raises premiums and cuts medicare, i'd like to call attention to a notice received just yesterday from the congressional budget office informing us that they plan to issue a cost estimate today for the senate-passed health care bill. in other words, sometime today, the c.b.o. will release its final cost estimate on the health spending bill that the majority passed here on
christmas eve. this is march 11. we passed that bill on christmas eve. we're now getting a cost estimate from the congressional budget office. so our friends on the other side, every single one of them, voted for this enormous bill, a bill affecting the cost and quality of health care for every single man, woman and child in america without knowing the full cost to the taxpayers. well, excuse me for noting the obvious, but this is no way to legislate on an issue of this importance. month after month, we are told it was urgent to pass that bill. so urgent, apparently, that democrats in congress couldn't even wait to find out the effect the bill would have on the cost to the american people. and now we're being told the same thing. democrat leaders are telling us their members have to vet on this latest version of the same
bill by easter. the latest version of the same bill by easter. when are we going to find out how much that one costs? columbus day? americans aren't in any rush to pass this or any other 2,700-page bill that poses as reform but actually raises the cost of health care. and members of congress shouldn't be deceived by these theatrical attempts to create a sense of urgency about this legislation. the least that lawmakers can do is to find out how much these bills will cost the taxpayers before they schedule a vote. they can't have it both ways. they can't say they are concerned about how much these bills cost and not even ask to see the price tag. the fact is anybody who even considers voting for these health spending bills doesn't have lower costs as a priority because we know that these bills are going to drive costs up, not
down. now, madam president, on another issue. mr. mcconnell: i rise today to pay tribute to a young man from mcdowell, kentucky, who bravely served his country. lance corporal jonathan b. thornsberry was tragically killed during combat operations in iraq back on october 25, 2006. he was 22 years old. he left behind a family and friends who love him and remember him that today,
march 11, is his birthday. for his heroic service with the u.s. marines, lance corporal thornsberry received several medals, awards, and decorations, including the national defense service medal and the purple heart. the man called jon-jon by family and friends was following a family tradition when he elected to wear america's uniform. his brother, father, and grandfather all served in the military. it was just something he wanted to do, jonathan's brother jeff recalled of why jonathan signed up. it was a decision he made. jonathan's parents, jackie and judy, remember their son saying we have to go over there. if we don't go over there, they will be here. jonathan grew up in floyd county where he attended mcdowell elementary school and south floyd high school. he played catcher on his high
school baseball team. everybody remembers how good he was, and south floyd high has retired his old number 13 in his memory. the name of mcdowell elementary school's sports teams is the daredevils. jonathan certainly fit that description growing up, as he liked to play in the mountains, go four wheeling and go hunting. this is not to say that he didn't have any sense of responsibility. once when he was just 4 or 5 years old, jonathan and his father were hunting when they climbed too high on a mountain. we need to go down. mommy will be worried about us, jonathan said. jonathan was very close to his father, and the two of them worked together in the coal mines before jonathan joined the marines. jonathan was also a father himself. he and his wife, toni renee, had a daughter haley jo.
haley jo recently turned 5 years old, and she likes to tell people that she has her daddy's green eyes. jonathan was also close to his aunt, edna hamilton, better known in the family as aunt eddie a girl. she would always buy candy for her favorite nephew, even though she was on a fixed income. jonathan graduated from south floyd high school in 2002 and after working alongside his father in the coal mines enlisted in the marines in january, 2005. he was assigned to the marine forces reserve's third battalion, 24th regiment, fourth infantry division based out of johnson city, tennessee. after training in california, jonathan was deployed in support of operation iraqi freedom in 2006. his family recalls he left california on september 26, and just one month later, his life was tragically lost.
a few days before his death, jonathan called his mother judy to wish her a happy birthday, but she was at the grocery store and missed his call. jonathan did get to talk to his wife toni. toni and judy talked later, and judy remembers they shared an uneasy feeling. i could feel god all around me that morning, and i should have known something, judy says. i could feel god protecting me from the harshness of this. later that day, they received the horrible news. funeral services were held at little rosa church in mcdowell where jonathan's two favorites songs, "the old ship of zion" and "amazing grace" were played. tributes to him were held in frankfort and back at south floyd high school. today on jonathan's birthday,
madam president, our thoughts are with the many loved ones he has left behind. we're thinking his brother and sister-in-law, jeff. one year after jonathan's death, his family,ri in pike hole city park. friends recalled him as the type of guy who would about. his wife said. then she read a poem that got across how her husband was a man who didn't ask for much. "if you have a place for me, ne. a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator is recognized. mr. kaufman: i ask unanimous consent to speak for up to 25 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kaufman: financial regulatory reform is possibly the most important legislation
that the congress will address for many years to come, because if we don't get it right, the consequences of another financial meltdown could be devastating. in the senate, as we continue to move closer to consideration of a landmark bill, however, we are still far short of addressing some of the fundamental problems, particularly that of too big to fail that caused the last crisis and already have planted the seeds for the next one. this is happening after months of careful deliberation and negotiations in just a year -- and just a year and a half after a virtual meltdown of the entire financial system. following the great depression, the congress built a glass-steah establishes a firewall between commercial and investment banking activities. another was the federally guaranteed insurance fund to back up bank deposits, and there were other rules imposed on investors and designed to tamp down on rampant speculation on
federal rules like the uptick rule for short selling. that edifice worked well to ensure financial stability for decades. for the past 30 years, the financial industry started down the road to deregulation. bit by bit, many of the protection standards put in place by the new deal were methodically removed. while the seminal moment came in 199 with the repeal of glass-steagall, that formal rollback was primarily just the confirmation of a lengthy process already under way. indeed, after 1999, the d deregulatory process only accelerate. financial conglomerates and combined banking consolidated with evermore complex transactions all which made our financial system more vulnerable to collapse. a shadow banking industry drew up larger proportions than even
the banking industry itself virtually unshock led by any regulations. failing to put in place new rules as complex financial innovations arose and became widespread, this deregulatory philosophy unleashed the forces that would cause our financial crisis. i start by asking a very simple question: given that deregulation caused the crisis, why don't we go back to the statutory and regulatory frame works of the past that were proven successes in ensuring financial stability? this is basically a conservative question, and i am conservative on this issue. why don't we go back to what has question? if we move beyond the old frameworks, that the eggs are too scrambled, that the financial industry has become too sophisticated and too modernized and that it was not this or that piece of
deregulationed the crisis in the first place. mind you -- think about that. this is a financial crisis that necessitated a $2.5 trillion bailout. and that does not include the many trillions of dollars. more than that were committed as guarantees for toxic debt, the de facto bailout the banks received to ease monetary policy. this triggered a great recession that's thrown millions out of work, caused millions to lose their homes and caused everyone to suffer, and an american economy that has been thrown off its stride for more than two years. given the high cost of policy and regulatedtory failures as well as the reckless behavior by wall street, why should those of us who propose returning to the regulatory ideas of the past bear the burden of proof? the burden of proof should be upon those who would only tinker at the current edges of our financial institution. it amazes me that some of the reform proposals effectively
maintain the status quo in so many critical areas. whether it is allowing multitrillion-dollar financial conglomerates that house both traditional banking and speculative activities to continue to determine their own capital standards or permitting a significant proportion of the derivatives market to remain opaque and lightly regulated. to address these problems, congress needs to draw hard lines that propose fundamentally reforms, the very type of thing we had under glass-steagall. we need limits on the size of systemically significant nonbank players. and we need to regulate effectively the derivatives market that caused so much widespread financial ruin. it is my sincere hope that we don't enact compromise measures that give only the illusion of change and a false sense of accomplishment. if we do, then we'll only have set in place the prelude to the
next financial crisis. first, however, let us examine the origins of both obscure and well known of the great recession 26008. as i already noted, regulators began tearing down the walls strene commercial banking and investment banking long before the repeal of glass-steagall. with the steady erosion of these protections, the repeal of glass-steagall had become a fait accompli even before the blanch bliley act of 1999. the repeal took place over many years. the market's transformation after 1999 was swaifntdz profound. first, there was a frenzied merger in the banking sector. it brought out smaller rivals to gain the ever-increasing national and international footprint. the business of finance wag changing. this is where investors directly
funded investors through the financial markets and was fully in full bloom prior to the repeal of glass-steagall. this is in principle a diable process a that facilitates the flow of credit and dispersion of risk yoandle the banking s regulatory neglect, however, permitted a good model to mutate and grow into a sad farce. on one end of the supply change, regulators alloyed standards to erode without strengthening mortgage originations. not even those within the bank holding companies of which the regulators had jurisdiction. on the other hand, securities backed by risky loans were transformed and deemedz high-grade by credit rating agencies after a securities were
repackaged. the nonbank actors like investment banks, hedge fund, money market funds and offbalance sheet investment funds that powered this so-called structured finance became known as the shadow banking market. of course, the shadow bank market could only have grown to surpass by trillions of dollars the actual banking market with the consent of the regulators. third, more than a year after repealing glass-steagall, congress paled the commodity futures modernization act of 2000 which allowed, can you believe this -- allowed over-the-counter derivatives to remain seaningly unregulated. the explosive growth of over-the-counter derivative markets was stunning. the size of the market grew to just over $95 trillion at the end of 2000 to over $600 trillion in 2009.
this growth had profound implications for the overall risk profile of the financial system. while derivatives can be used as a valuable tool to mitigate the hedge risk, they can also be used as a relatively inexpensive way to take on leverage and assume more risk. and they pose other problems as well. since derivatives represent contingent lieblghts or assets, the risks associated with them are imperfectly accounted for on company balance sheets and they have concentrated risk in the banking sector since even before the repeal of glass-steagall large commercial banks like j.p. morgan were major derivatives players. finally, the proliferation of derivatives has increased the interdependence of many financial actors while also overwhelming their back office infrastructure. hence, on the eve of what was arguably the biggest economic crisis since the great depression, the financial industry was larger, more concentrated, more complex, more
leveraged, and more interconnected than ever before. once the subprime crisis hit, it spread like a contagion causing a collapse throughout the entire thri industry. without clear wall, the government insurers and those free to take on leveraging risks, the american taxpayer was called upon to step forward into the breach. unfortunately, one of the side effects of the government's response to the financial meltdown has only made the industry bigger, more concentrated, and more complex. as the entire financial system was imploding follow the bankruptcy by lehman brothers, mergers were organized between banks which had an effect between the banks whose business model depended on market confidence to roll over short-term debt. before the lehman bankruptcy, bear stearns had been merged
into j.p. morgan. after the collapse, one of the biggest americaners to occur was tbeen merrill lynch. both goldman sachs and morgan stanley, neither of which had anything even close to a traditional banking franchise, were given special dispensations from the federal reserve to become bank holding companies, and they remain bank holding companies to this day. this provided them with permanent borrowing privileges at the federal reserve's discount window without exposure to risky assets. it was an official confirmation that they were covered by the government safety net because they were literally too big to fail. since the crisis, u.s. megabanks left standing more dominant positions. the five largest banks control 95% of the over-the-counter
derivatives market. let me repeat that. the five largest banks control 95% of the over-the-counter derivatives market. with such strong pricing power, these firms could afford to expand dramatically their margins. the federal reserve estimates that those five banks made $35 billion from trading in the first half of 2009 alone. of course, they used these outsized profits not only to replenish their capital but also to pay billions of dollars in bonuses. m.i.t. professor simon johnson and james kwack estimate the six largest u.s. banks now have total assets in excess of 63% of our overall gross domestic product. only 15 years ago the six largest u.s. banks had assets
equal to 17% of the gross domestic product. this is an extraordinary increase, a concentration of financial power not seen since the days of morgan, rockefeller, and carnegie. unfortunately, many of the current reform proposals focus more on reorganizing, consolidating our financial infrastructure which does flog to address the most basic issue that we still have gigantic banks causing the very financial shocks that they themselves cannot withstand. rather than pass the tbowk a reshuffled regulatory deck which will still be forced to oversee banks described as too big to manage and too big to regulate, we must draw hard statutory lines between banks and investment houses. we must eliminate the problem of too big to fail by reinstituting the spirit of glass-steagall, a modern version of this hav venee act that separates investment
from banking activities and imposes limits on financial institutions. we must establish clear and enforceable rules of the road for our securities market to make them less fragments, opaque, and prone to collapse. over-the-counter derivatives market must -- must -- be tightly regulated as well. finally, i believe the myriad conflicts of interest on wall street must be addressed through greater protection and empowerment of individual investmeninvestors. while no doubt necessary, this is no panacea. no matter how well-crafted the resolution mechanism is, there can never be an orderly winddown, particularly during periods of stress of a $2 trillion institution like citigroup with its hundreds of billions of dollars in offbalance sheet assets, heavy reliance ons wholesale selling.
i hear people talk about a winddown strategy. how do you wind down an institution like citigroup? hundreds of billions of dollars in offbalance assets, heavy reliance on the wholesale funding. as we're finding out more and more, a tow hold in more than 1 companies outside the united states. the rest of the accident happens much too quickly. that is why we need to directly address the size, the structure, and the concentration of our financial system. the volcker rule, which would prohibit commercial banks from owning or sponsoring hedge funds, private equity funds, and purely proprietary trading in derivatives or security markets, is a good start. i applaud him for proposing that purely speculative activity should be moved out of banks. that is why i join with senator jeff merkley and carl levin to introduce a strong version of the volcker rule. but i think we must go further still. massive institutions that
combine traditional commercial banking and investment banking are rife with conflicts and are too large and complex to be effectively managed. we can address these problems by reimposing the kind of protections we had under glass-steagall that worked for 70 years. for those who say repealing glass-steagall did not cause the crisis, that it began at bear stearns, lehman brothers and arks i say that large commercial banks were engaged in exactly the same behavior as bear, lehman and a.i.g. and would have collapsed had the federal government not stepped in and taken extraordinary measures. that's the reason why commercial didn't go under. it's because breaked them because they were too big to fail. we let bear, lehman and a.i.g. go under because they were not. this seems likes a circular argument on why we should not do more about commercial banks when we have five commercial banks in this country that are so incredibly large it's difficult to see how you could ever unwind them and we'd be stuck with the same situation we were during the meltdown. moreover, response
-- in response to the crisis, -- the result, they can continue to grow, and they are, unchecked, using insured deposits for speculative activities without running any real risk of failure on account of their size. we need to reinstate glass-steagall in an updated form to prevent or at least severely moderate the next crisis. by statutorily splitting apart massive financial institutions that house both banking and security operations, we will both cut the firms down to more reasonable and manageable sizes and rightfully limit the safety net only to traditional banks. a growing number of people are also calling for change. they include fdic chairman bill isaac -- former fdic chairman bill isaac, john reid, nobel prize winning economist joseph stiglitz, president of the federal reserve bank thomas
hunter, bank of england governor mervin king, among many others. a chastened alan greenspan also added to the chorus, noting, and i quote, "if they're too big to fail, they are too big." in 1911, we spoke up standard oil, so what happened? the individual parts became more valuable than the whole. maybe that's what we need to do." unquote. greenspan greenspan, in my opinion, has never been more right. but even this extraordinary step of splitting this institution apart is not sufficient. cleaving investment banking from traditional commercial banks will still leave us massive investment banks, some with balance sheets that exceed a trillion dollars in assets. for that reason, glass-steagall would need to be supplemented with strict size and leverage constraints. to ensure that regulatory forbearance does not permit another lehman brothers, we should institute a simple statutory leverage requirement. for instance, a limit on how much funds can borrow relative
to how much the chair holders have on the line. i would also stress, however, that a leveraged limit alone with now breaking up the biggest bank will not have the effect we need. too big to fail banks enjoy a major funding advantage and leverage limits by themselves do not address that. our biggest banks have become significantly smaller if we are to make any progress at all. turning to derivative reform, i applaud the efforts to push for centralized clearing and electronic execution of standardized over the counter derivatives contracts as well as more robust collateral and marginal requirements. for over two decades, this market has existed with virtually no recognition whatsoever, and it's high time for this to change. in addition, we need to address the fundamental conflict of interest on wall street. while separating commercial banking from investment banking is a critical step, there are still inherent conflicts within the modern investment banking
model. we can begin by strengthening investor protection. currently, brokers are not subject to a fiduciary duty as financial advisors are, but are only subject to a suitability requirement when selling securities products to their investors. hence, brokers don't have to be guided by their customers' best interests when recommending investment product offerings. they might instead be focused on increasing their compensation by pushing proprietary financial products. now, i'm not saying they are doing that, but we have to be aware and deal with clear conflicts of interest. by harmonizing the standards that brokers and financial advisors face and by better disclosing broker compensation, retail investors will be able to make better, more informed investment decisions. it has also become known that some firms underwrite securities, promoting them to investors, and then short these very same securities within a week and without disclosing this fact, which any reasonable investor would regard as adverse
material information. these and other problematic practices that place financial firms' interests against those of their clients have to be restricted. they also completely violate the spirit of our landmark legislation in the 1930's which insisted for the first time that the sellers and underwriters of securities disclose all material informations. investors should also have greater recourse through our judicial system. for example, orders, accounts, bankers, and other professionals that are complicit in corporate fraud should be held accountable. that's why i worked on a bill with senators specter and reid to allow for private civil actions against individuals who knowingly or recklessly aid or bet -- vet a violation of security laws. admittedly, this is not an exhaustive list of financial reforms. i also believe we need to reconstitute our system of consumer financial protection, which is a major failure before our last crisis. we must have an independent consumer financial protection agency that has strong and
autonomous rule-making authority, and the ability to enforce these rules at nonbanking entities like payday lenders and mortgage finance companies. most importantly, the head of the agency must not be subject to the authority of any regulator responsible for safety and sounding of the financial institutions. this is really basic. if you're involved like most of our banking regulatory agencies are in the treasury, their primary responsibility is the safety and soundness of those financial institutions. we need an organization like the cfpa which looks out totally for the interest of consumers and consumers alone. i know there are those who would disagree with some, perhaps all, of my proposals. they sincerely advocate a path of incrementalism, of achieving small reforms over time. they say the problems as complex as these need to be solved by the regulators, not by the congress. after all, they are the ones with the expertise. i respectfully, i truly respectfully disagree. without drawing hard lines that
reduce size and complexity, large financial institutions will continue to speculate confidently, knowing they will eventually be funded by the taxpayer, if necessary. as long as we have too big to fail institutions, we will continue to go through what professor johnson and peter boone of the london school of economics has termed doomsday cycles, a booms, busts, and bailouts, so-called doom moods as andrew haldane who is responsible for the financial stability of the bank of england describes it. the notion that the most recent crisis was a once in a century event, especially if we don't put in place the things that protect us in the last 70 years from having this happen before. former treasury secretary paulson, national economic council chairman larry summers and jamie diamond all concede that financial crises occur every five years or so. without clear and enforceable rules that address the unintended consequences of unchecked financial innovation and which adequately protect
investors, our markets will remain subverted. these solutions are among the cornerstones of fundamental and structural financial reform. with them, we can built a regulatory system that will endure for generations instead of one that we laid bare by an even bigger crisis in perhaps just a few years or a decade's time. i only hope they have both the fortitude and the foresight to do so again. madam president, i ask unanimous consent that my full statement be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kaufman: madam president, i yield -- mr. president, -- madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the banking committee be discharged from further consideration of h.r. 2194, the iran refined petroleum sanctions act of 2009, and the senate then proceed to its consideration. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: h.r. 2194, an act to amend the iran sanctions act of
1996, to enhance united states diplomatic efforts with respect to iran by expanding economic sanctions against iran. the presiding officer: is there an objection to proceeding to the measure? without objection, the senate will proceed. mr. kaufman: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that the substitute amendment which is at the desk and the language of s. 2799 as passed by the senate on january 28, 2010, be considered and agreed to, the bill as amended be read three times, passed, and the motion to reconsider be laid upon the table. that upon passage, the senate insist on its amendment, request a conference with the house on the disagreeing votes of the two houses and the chair be authorized to appoint conferees on the part of the senate with a ratio of 4-3 without further intervening action or debate. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. kaufman: madam president. the presiding officer: the chair appoints the following conferees on the part of the senate. the clerk: senators dodd, kerry,
lieberman, menendez, shelby, bennett of utah and lugar. mr. kaufman: madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president? i ask consent that republican senators be permitted to engage in a croix. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: i thank the chair. madam president, the senator from arizona and i and senator barrasso who will be here in a few minutes had the privilege of being invited by the president to a lengthy health care summit not a couple of weeks ago. it was at the blair house, an historic location right across from the white house. over the seven 1/2-hour discussion, there were some discuss differences of opinion. in fact, my friend, the majority leader, said lamar, you're not entitled to your facts, and i think he's right about that. we want to use real facts. but the american people once again seem to have understood the real facts.
in the "wall street journal" yesterday, march 10, there was an article by scott rasmussen and doug schoen. mr. rasmussen is an independent pollster. mr. schoen was president clinton's pollster. we were saying mr. president, your plan will increase the deficit. this is a time when many people in america believe the deficit is growing at an alarming rate and will bring the country to its knees in a few years if we don't do something about it. the president and his democratic colleagues says no, no, no, the congressional budget office says that we don't increase the deficit. the american people don't believe that, according to mr. rasmussen and mr. schoen. they say, "60% of voters believe passage of the president's plan will lead to higher deficits." and they're right about that. and why do i say that? because -- because not included in the comprehensive health care
plan that the president has yet to send up -- we don't have a bill yet. we have an 11-page memo which are suggested recommendations in a 2,700-page senate bill, so we don't have a bill, but the plan does not include what it costs to pay doctors for serving medicare patients over the next ten years. and according to the president's own budget -- and paul ryan brought this up, the congressman from wisconsin, at the summit. that costs $371 billion over ten years. now, let me say that once more. what we're being asked to believe is that here is a comprehensive health care plan that doesn't add to the debt, but it doesn't include what it costs to pay doctors to serve medicare patients. that's like asking you to come to a horse race without a horse.
i mean, does anybody believe that a comprehensive health care plan is complete and comprehensive, is it doesn't include what you pay doctors to see medicare patients? of course not. so you have to include that in there. that adds $371 billion to the president's proposal, and that by itself makes it clear that the proposal adds to the deficit. now, the senator from arizona is here, and i would say to the senator this. also in the article in "the wall street journal," it said 59% of the voters say the biggest problem with the health care system is the cost. that's what we have been saying over and over again. let's don't expand a program that costs too much. let's fix the program by reducing costs. according to the survey -- remember, this is an independent pollster and a democratic pollster. 59% say the biggest problem with the health care system is the
cost. they want reform that will bring down the cost of care. for these voters, the notion that you need to spend an additional trillion dollars doesn't make sense. if the program is supposed to save money, why does it cost anything at all asked the pollsters. i would ask the senator from arizona that question, if this program is supposed to save money, reduce costs, why does it cost anything at all? mr. mccain: i would say to my friend, obviously, the answer to that question is we continue to go back and back to the congressional budget office with different assumptions in order to get the answers that they want when the american people have figured it out, and again, i know that my friend from tennessee saw yesterday's news which has to be considered in the context of the cost of this bill which congressman ryan
estimates as around around $2.5 trillion over -- in true budgeting over ten years, but we can't ignore the fundamental fact that the government ran up -- this is an a.p. article yesterday. the government ran up the largest monthly deficit in history in february, keeping the flood of red ink on track to top last year's record for the full year. the treasury department said on wednesday the february deficit totaled $220.9 billion, 14% higher than the previous order set in february of last year. the deficit through the first five months of this budget year totaled $651 billion, 10% higher than a year ago, and the obama administration, the administration is projecting that the deficit for the 2010 budget year will hit an all-time high of $1.56 trillion,
surpassing last year's record of of $1.4 trillion. i say to my friend from tennessee, these are numbers that in my young years, we would not believe -- we would not believe that we could be running up these kinds of deficits. and yet we hear from the president and from the administration that things are getding better. well, certainly not from the debt that we are running on to future generations of americans. i think an example -- and i wonder if my friend from tennessee would agree with me, that there's so much anger out there over the pork-barrel spend and earmark spending that the speaker of the house says they're going to ban earmarks in the other body for for-profit companies. why not ban them all? immediately, they would set up these shadow outfits and chairman obey says that that
would be 1,000 earmarks n one bill last year there were 9,000 earmarks. why don't we take the final step and put a moratorium on earmarks until there's no more deficit? i think that's what the american people want, to get rid of this corruption that continues there. could i also mention to my friend from tennessee very briefly, you know, the president, when he and i sat next to each other at blair house and i talked about the special deals for the special interests and the unsavory deal that was cut with pharma and how the american people as angry at the process as the product. the president's response to me and the certain accuracy associated with it he said, "the campaign is over." well, i would remind my friend that before the campaign, before the campaign, when the president was still a senator, he said this about reconciliation.
he said, "know "you know, the fg fathers designed this system, as frustrating as it is, to make sure there is a broad consensus that the system is as fair as -- that's prompt ago change in the rules that would change the character of the senate forever. what i worry about would be you slings have still two chairnlings the house and the senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side and that's just not what the founders intended." that was a statement by then-senator barack obama. and heent with on to say, "i would try to get a unified effort saying this is a national emergency. do something. we need the republicans. we need the dessments andious yesterday, it's time to vote. it's time to is his message which certainly is attractive.
we will be a be glad to vote but we want to preserve the institution of the senate, the 600-vote rule. -- the 60-vote rule. republicans when they are in the majority, we tried to change it as the senator from tennessee remembers. but the fact is that if we take away the 60-vote majority that is characterized -- that has characterized the way that this body has proceed, woo we will then be as the then-senator obama said, "you just have to -- what i would worry about is you have essentially two chairnlings the house and the senate, but you have simply majoritarian, absolute power on either side and that's just not what the founders intended." i wonder if that's what the president still believes, that that's not what the founders intended. mr. alexander: i appreciate my colleague bringing this up. i think it is important that the
people remember that the senator from arizona has a certain amount of credibility 0 on this. it was the republicans about four years ago when we were in the majority and we became frustrated because democrats were blocking president bush's judicial appointments. so some of us, some republicans -- i didn't, but some republicans said, well, let's just jam it through. we won the election. let's get it with 51 votes. let's change the rules. but senator mccain and a group of others said, wait just a minute. the united states -- he said then what he said just today. he said, the united states founders set up the united states senate to be a protecter of minority rights, and as senator byrd, the senior democratic senator has said, sometimes the minority is right. and as alexis de tocque vicialtion who wrote his observations about our country in the 1830's, that the
potentially greatest threat to the american democracy is tyranny. this is a place where decisionss are based on consensus. running the health care bill through the senate like a freight train is an outrage. and it would be an outrage. i would is a to the senator from arizona, don't you believe that it's not just the higher premiums and the higher taxes and the extra cost to states. that in the end, the reason this health care bill is so deeply unpopular is because of the process, because first, you know, 25 days of secret meetings. now jamming it through by a partisan vote. something this birks this important ought to be decided by consensus in the united states senate. mr. mccain: i would remind my friend from tennessee, and i -- madam president, i would like -- ask unanimous consent that senator byrd's statement on
senator d. -- senator robert byrd in april of 2001, be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: he explained his objection to using reconciliation to pass controversial health care legislation. i quote from senator robert byrd. "the democratic leadership pleaded with me at length to support the idea that the clinton health care bill should be included in that year's reconciliation package. president clinton got on the phone and called me also and pressed me to allow his massive health care bill to be insulated by reconciliation's protection. i felt that changes as dramatic ago the clinton health care package which would affect ever man, woman cialtion and child would be scrutiny. i said," quoting robert byrd, "i said, mr. president, i cannot in good conscience turn my face the other way. that's why we have a senate, to amend and debate freely. and that health bill, as important as it is, is so complex, so far reaching that the people of this country need to know what's in it."
i mind you, the speaker of the house just said yesterday, if they pass the bill, then people would know what's in it. and moreover, mr. president, we senators need to know what's in it before we voavment and he accepted that. he accepted that. thanked me and said goodbye. i could not, i would not, and i did not allow that package to be handled in such a cavalier manner. it was the threat of the united states of the byrd rule. and he finally summarize and said, "reconciliation was never, never, never intended to be a sheeferld to be -- to be used as a shaled fo shield for controvel legislation." the senator from tennessee mentioned the process. i don't think the american people understand that if the house passes the bill, the senate bill, every one of these sweet sh heart deals that were included behind door negotiations and the majority leader's office and in the white house will remain in that bill. and we republicans have all signed a letter, 41 votes, that we will not accept any change
because -- or amendment whether it's good or bad because we oppose the use of reconciliation, as robert byrd did so eloquently back in 2001. mr. alexander: i wonder if the senator from arizona would agree with me that what is happening sheer that the president is inviting the house democrats to join hands and jump off a cliff and hope senator reid catches them -- >> mr. mccain: the c-span cameras in those meetings? mr. alexander: well, when they jump, it might be. but senator reid, i would ask the senator from arizona and his democratic colleagues, they're not going to have any incentive to catch these house members who vote for the bill, because the president will have already signed it into law enforcement hhe'll be well on his way to i understand niece aia. we have 41 republican senators who have signed a letter saying that you're not going to make new deals and send them over
here and change them by reconciliation. mr. mccain: i would also take -- bring attention -- and, madam president, i ask unanimous consent that an article entitled "health care reforms sickeningly sweet deals" by kathleen parker which appeared in "the washington post" on wednesday, march 10, be included in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: i think she says is best. and i quote her article. "skipping through the candyland of the health care bill, one is tempted to hum a few bars much "let me call you sweetheart." what a deal for deal makers, that is, not so much for american taxpayers who have been misled into thinking that the sweetheart deals have been excised." that's why i say to my friend from ten tep, it is important, the american people understand at that the senate bill cannot be changed without coming back to the senate. corks therefore, with all these deals that they have pledged to remove, we'll be in the bill that will be voted on by the other body.
the cornhusker kickback, which by the way secured 100% funding for nebraska's medicaid expansion in perpetuity, among other hidden prizes, to benefit locally based snurchtion companies. when other states complained about the unfair treatment, president obama and congress fixed it by increasing the federal share to all states through 2017, after which all amounts are supposed to decrease. but they didn't fix t anyway, so i think it's important for us to understand that these sweetheart deals have not been removed that we, in our opposition to the entire reconciliation which would lead to the erosion and eventual destruction of the 60-vote procedure, which has characterized the senate has operated -- and i have been in the majority and i have been in the minority. when i've opinion in the
majority, we've been frustrated by the 60-vote rule, and vice versa. and some of the people who are doing the greatest complaining about the -- and are doing the greatest complaining about the fact that we have 60 had vote rule here are the same ones who were the most steadfast defenders in past years when they were in the minority. that alone is enough argument for us to leave the process alone. and i believe that historians will show that there are times where the 60-vote rule averted because of the exigencies of the moment -- averted us taking actions which later on in perhaps calmer times we were glad that we did not enact at that time. mr. alexander: madam president, i congratulate the senator from arizona for his consistency. for five years ago saying to members of his own party that the senate is a place where
minority rights are protected and, as senator byrd has said, sometimes the minority is right. it slows things down, yes, but it forces us to get it rievment i ask unanimous consent to include following my remarks the editorial from "the wall street journal" to which i referred a little earlier. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. alexander: and i ask consent -- i see the senator wyoming on the floor. i ask unanimous consent that he be allowed to lead the colloquy in our remaining time. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. mccain: could i ask the senator from wyoming, is he aware of a letter from i believe 85,000 physicians that oppose this legislation that recently came in? mr. barrasso: well, madam president, i am not aware of that article. i look forward to hearing about it from my colleague. mr. mccain: may i just mention to my friend, dr. barrasso, the undersigned state of national specialty societies representing more than 85,000 physicians and
the millions of patients they serve are writing to oppose passage of the patient protection and are afordable care act. the changes that were recently proposed by president obama do not address our many concerns with this legislation and they, therefore, urge you to draft a more patient-centered bill that will reform the country's flawed system for financing health care while preserving the best health care in the world. i just want to ask my friend, dr. barrasso, isn't it true that if -- that included in this legislation remains the so-called doc fix, that there will be a 21% curt in doctors' payments for medicaid, the treatment of medicare enroll year, and there is no one in america that believes that that cut will actually be enacted, which then makes this entire -- the entire comments by supporters of this bill false on its face, just that alone? i believe that's $371 billion;
is that correct? mr. barrasso: my colleague is absolutely correct. that is exactly what is happening. they call this a health care bill. it doesn't really seem to address the major issues that patients across the country are concerned about and my colleague is absolutely right. we need a patient-centered approach. it doesn't address the issue that doctors are concerned about. which is the issue of knacking sure that a doctor and a patient can work together toward the best health for that patient. doctors and patients alike are very much opposed to this bill, and when senator mccain talks about this dr. fix, doctors across the country, to make this bill works, it says they're going to get a 21% cut in what they get paid for take care of patients who depend upon medicare for their health care, and then keep that price frozen tor the next ten years. that's the only way they can come up in any way, the
democrats can say well, this actually saves money, when in reality in terms of health care in the country, it does not. this bill if it passes is going to end up costing patients more, it's going to interfere with the doctor-patient relationship, it's going to result in an america where people truly believe that their health care, if this passes, their health care, their personal care -- and that's what people worry about. they say what's in it for me? how is this going to affect me and my life and my children? for adults, how is it going to affect our parents? they believe that the care that they receive, in terms of the quality of care, the available care that they receive, is going to be worse, and they believe it's going to end up costing more. and that's why in a recent poll just this week, 57% of americans say that this plan, if it passes, will hurt the economy. we're at a time where we're at 9.7% unemployment in this
country. people are looking for work, and the place that people find jobs in this economy right now tends to be working for the government. but the engine that drives our nation and the economy of this nation, the engine has been for decades and decades small businesses. that's who we rely upon to stimulate the economy and get job growth. that's who we should be relying on. not washington, not the federal government. and that's why 57% of americans who are focused on the economy say we believe that this economy will be hurt if this bill passes. people are focused on the debt and the cost, and 81% of americans say it's going to cost more than estimated, because as senator mccain has said, the numbers that we look at, the fact that the -- that doctors are going to be cut 21% across the board and continue for the
next ten years with their medicare fees, people of america realize that that's not going to work for health care, that people are going to say hey, how am i going to get to see a doctor, i'm on medicare, i want to see a doctor. that's why people believe that health care, their own personal care is going to get worse if this bill passes. and then the president promised we're not going to raise taxes on anyone. well, 78% of americans believe that there will be middle-class tax hikes if this bill passes. that's why people are opposed to a bill that cuts $500 billion from medicare for our seniors who depend upon medicare for their health care. and it's not just in cutting it in payment to doctors. it's to hospitals, nursing homes where we have so many seniors across the country. it affects home health agencies, which is a lifeline for people who are at home and keeps them out of the hospital. they are even going to cut
medicare for patients who are in hospice care, who are at the terminal point, the final days of their life. they're cutting that out. so all of these things are reasons that the american people say i'm not for this bill, and it's time, mr. president, to stop. half of americans say stop and start over. one in four say just stop completely. only one in four believe this is actually going to help. that's not a way to pass legislation in this country. that's not a way to find something that the american people agree with. that's not the way to get successful implementation of a program. to get something -- and i spent five years in the wyoming state senate. on major pieces of legislation, we always sought broad bipartisan support, because if you have broad bipartisan support, then people all around the community and the country would say this must be the right
solution to a significant problem that we're facing. and we are facing a problem with health care in this country, and we need health care reform. we just don't need this bill that cuts medicare, raises taxes, and for the most part, most americans will tell you, they believe their own personal care will suffer as a result of this bill becoming law. for whatever means or mechanism or parliament tricks are used to try to cram this bill through and cram it down the throats of the american people, the american people want to say no thank you, and they're saying it in a less polite way than just saying no thank you. they are calling, showing up, turning out to tell their elected representatives that we do not want this bill, under any circumstances. let's get to the things that we can agree upon and isolate those and pass those immediately.
not an over 2,000-page bill that is loaded with new government rules and new government regulations and new government agencies and new government employees at a time when 10% of americans are unemployed and people are looking for work in communities around the country. one of the things that i found so interesting and also distressing, when the president says everyone will have coverage, he wants to do it by putting 15 million americans on medicaid. having practiced medicine for 25 years and seeing all patients, regardless of ability to pay, i can tell you that there are many doctors across the country who don't see medicaid patients because what they receive in payment from the -- from the government for seeing those patients is so little. and even the people at the congressional budget office who look at this health care bill, with the cuts in medicare and with so many people put on medicaid, they say one in five hospitals is going to be unable
to stay open ten years from now if this gets passed because they are not going to be able to even cover the expenses of staying open. the same applies to doctors' offices and to nursing homes. we need a program and an approach that is sustainable, not something like this that we know is irresponsible and unsustainable. and that's what you're going to do if you put 15 million more people on medicaid by sending them a medicaid card, but as senator alexander has said, that's like giving somebody a bus ticket when a bus isn't coming, because coverage does not always equal care. and as a surgeon in wyoming, i took care of people who came from canada, came to wyoming from canada for health care. well, they had coverage in
canada because canada covers all of the people, but they don't get care in canada, and that's why 33,000 canadians, 33,000 last year came to the united states for surgery. why? because the waiting lines were so long in canada. even a member of parliament who had cancer -- and my wife is a breast cancer survivor -- a member of parliament from canada with cancer came to the united states for her cancer care because the survival rates for people treated in the united states is so much better. why is it better? well, it's more timely care. people come for artificial hip replacements because they don't want to wait in canada. in canada, come halloween, trick or treat medicine, they have spent the amount of money they are going to spend on a procedure, whether it's cataract surgery, total joint replacement, we're done for the year, wait until next year. go get in line again. and i hear it time and time
again in patients who come from canada to the united states because they have coverage but they don't have care. and then we look at medicaid and medicare, and we look at the model that the president has lifted up as the one that says hey, this is a good model for health care in america, and he pointed to the mayo clinic, which is an incredible place, wonderful care, and yet the mayo clinic in arizona said we can't take more medicare patients, and they said we can't -- we have to limit the number of medicaid patients that we take. why? because by taking care of those patients in the past, the mayo clinic says they have lost hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars because washington is the biggest debt -- deadbeat payer for health care. when it comes to medicare actually rejecting patients' claims, the number one rejection of claims, the number one
rejecter of claims in this country is medicare. the highest percentage of claims reject south dakota medicare. over other insurance companies. and having practiced medicine for 25 years, i have fought with medicare and i have fought with insurance companies all on behalf of patients. and when you're fighting with an insurance company, you can always actually appeal, appeal that if they reject it. very hard to fight with washington. this health care bill that we have now been debating in the senate and is now before the house is one that the american people say don't make me live under this. don't cut my medicare. don't raise my taxes, and don't interfere with my relationship with my doctor and don't make it tougher for me to get care and don't lessen the quality of that care.
with that, madam president, i ask how much time i have remaining? the presiding officer: the time is expired. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call: mr. barrasso: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from wyoming. mr. barrasso: i ask that the quorum call be stopped at this point. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: i ask unanimous consent to place into the record the letter that senator mccain referenced from the 85,000 doctors across the country opposing the bill. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. barrasso: thank you, madam president. with that, i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: i ask the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. wyden: madam -- mr. merkleym president, i rise today to honor my colleague and good friend, oregon state treasurer ben westland who passed away this last sunday after a protracted battle with lung cancer. mr. merkley: a true independent voice in oregon politics, ben entered the legislature to improve the lives of all oregonians, and he remained committed to that cause. i first met him in 1997 when i was working for the world affairs council. i went down and talked to the legislature about education in oregon. i was fortunate enough to start serving with him two years later in 1999.
ben was an unwavering advocate for affordable and available health care. he helped stabilize oregon's college savings plan. he increased the state's credit rating. over the years i worked with ben on many issues, including setting up oregon's rainy day fund, a savings account to protect oregon solvency and critical programs when the economy turned down. i also worked with my friend ben westland to create individual development accounts, to help empower low-income families, a savings program matched by grants that help families buy homes, start small businesses, return to college, pathways from poverty into the middle class. and i think it speaks to ben's belief in helping families succeed that he took a lead role in that program.
ben's political affiliations ranged at times from republican to independent to democrat, but no matter what party he belonged to, his focus, first and foremost, was always on creating a better oregon. ben gave in 2003 one of the 0 most passionate and moving speeches that i have ever witnessed in my life. he gave this speech shortly after being diagnosed with cancer. he wasn't sure he'd return to the leming tour, and he want -- to the legislature, and he wanted us to know that we couldn't retreat in the balance of passing reforms for affordable and quality health care. he knew it was an enormous challenge but he took his personal story and turned it to the cause. and his work ethic was unmatched. ben was working as recently as
just last week. it was an honor to serve with ben in the oregon legislate tiewrdz and to consult with him and he took on new challenges as oregon's treasurer. now, if you knew ben, you knew he was gregarious. he lit up the room. at every moment his enthusiasm for improving our state and our world was inspiring. i will miss him, and i'm sure that his passion and his presence will be missed throughout our state, and i know that all oregonians join me today in honoring the legacy of ben westland. thank you, madam president. mr. wyden: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from oregon. mr. wyden: my colleague and friend, senator americaly, has spoken very eloquently about ben westland, and i wanted to echo
just a couple of those thoughts and reflect on ben's special and unique style and warmth. all of us who've been around government and politics, madam president, know the challenge of the early morning meeting. folks are a little bit sleep-deprived, they're looking for coffee, and maybe they're just trying to keep their eyes open at 7:30 or 8:00 a.m. and senator merkley and i want to tell you a little about ben westland. but ben westland was able to master, like everything else, the challenge of the early morning meeting in government. i'm sure senator merkley remembers that even at that early hour, ben westlan westland
bound to the podium -- would not walk, he would bound to the pod yumed and at the top of his lungs, madam president, he would shout, "good morning, oregon! good morning, folks. mao are you doing?" then in a matter of second, the entire room would be smiling. everyone would feel like attack the day. and that was ben westland. as senator merkley noted, he was always on the offensive against injustice, always speaking out, for example, 0 on health care. ben westland lived his life in full view. he shared his battle with cancer with his colleagues in the state legislature because he wanted everybody to know what it was like to try to wrestle with an illness, and he always made the point that he had all these
friendsment one of 0 our colleagues, alan bates, for example, twhras to ben. and ben would always say, what would it have been like without alan bates? i have some advantages that other people didn't have. and that was ben, always sticking up for others. he and i were creating calls before he passed, and senator merkley i think will identify with this, because i think ben was prepared to give me health care and maybe a little stronger on a couple of the provisions in the tax legislation that i just introduced with senator gregg. he was our treasurer. he had mastered the tax code in and out. i was trying to reach him because i knew that invariably ben westland would be right. he'd give us good input. and his thoughts would come directly from the people of
oregon. that was ben westland. both of oregon's united states senators are going to deeply miss this wonderful man. his good counsel and his companionship. and we just wanted to take a couple of minutes this morning, madam president, to note that oregon has lost a special person, a special person who did so much for our state. and in his fights he did a lot for our country as well. madam president, i yield the floormenyield thefloor.
quorum call be vaibted. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: i ask consent to spheek in morning business for as much time as it may consume. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. dorgan: we will report the f.a.a. reauthorization bill shortly. i believe senator rockefeller will be on his way shortly. he is chairing the commerce committee hearing right now and i will go over and chair the hearing when he comes to the floor. prior to bringing you the bill to the floor today or prior it making it the order of the day, let me just speak in morning business and ask consent that my presentation be included in the consideration of the f.a.a. reauthorization bill when we get to the bill. madam president, i wanted to talk just for a minute. yesterday i talked about what is in the f.a.a. reauthorization bill. and much of what we will discuss today is about commercial aviation, getting on an airline someplace and flying across the country or the world. but i wanted to mention that there's another component to this and that is what is called general aviation.
general aviation is a very large and increasingly important component of air travel in this country. a state like my home state of north dakota, which is a very large state and one that doesn't have a great deal of interstate commercial airline service, the use of private planes is very prevalent. and general aviation place a very significant role in our economy. i learned to fly many, many, many years ago -- i'm not a current pilot at all; i wouldn't even very good at it, i don't think, but i learned to fly and got out of the airplane one day when the instructor said you're read and i took off and wore this metal suit with an engine. so i understand a little about flying an airplane. it is an extraordinary thing. the private pilots that have an airplane in their hangar out on the farm or in a town or the small businessman or woman that has a cessna 210 or perhaps a
sirus or piper or any kind of small airplane, single engine, twin engine, use those planes every day, in every day for very important purposes, to travel around the state and the country, to do commerce, to haul parts to hauparts, to haul peop. it is a very significant contribution to our economy. it's estimated that $150 billion annually is added to our economy by general aviation. and it's also estimated there are about 1.2 million jobs in america from general aviation. now, i know that the thoughts people have about general aviation are -- immediately go to, okay, here's a big corporation flying a g-5 and sipping crystal and flying all across the country. yes, companies do have airplanes that move their executives
around. they do because it they want to be at a meeting in los angeles in the morning, in dallas in the afternoon and an evening meeting in new york. the only way they do that is through the use of private planes. it makes them much more effective and efficient. that i understand. but much more than just the large corporate jet that is flying people around this country, it is the smaller planes of general aviation that are used in all of our states in many ways across this country. and, you know, it is true that, yes, the corporate planes and the smaller private planes in general aviation every day are flying organ transplants around, flying hearts and so on, around to be transplanted at a hospital, to reunite combat troops with their families, to take someone for cancer treatment to an urgent appointment with a cancer specialist. all that have is the case. i understand that. so what i wanted to say is that
the use of general aviation and the extensive impact it has on our economy is something we also should discuss and describe in this bill. the legislation that we have created has things that are so important to all of aviation, yes, commercial aviation, but to general aviation and to private pilots as well. the investment, for example, in airport infrastructure, the building of and maintaining of runways in communities that don't have scheduled airline service but do have a lot of activity with private pilots flying in and out is very, very important. so the general aviation portion i just wanted to say is important. 600 general aviation airplanes have now brought fresh doctors, relief services, workers, equipment, supplies to the country of haiti. you don't read much about it, but 600 private airplanes have flown in and landed at airports, in most cases, airstrips other
than the airstrip at port-au-prince, haiti. that's a story that i think needs to be told. i have great admiration for the pilots that -- particularly the older pilots who have been around and used to fly those airplanes when there weren't many rules. they kind of chafe at all the rules. i understand that. when you need with pilots, the older they are, the more they chafe at the fact that there are now rules. in the old days, you jump in an airplane and run off and you can do almost anything. but we do have rules and regulations and general aviation subscribes to them willingly and very ably and is an important part of our aviation system. i wanted to mention as well senator rockefeller, the chairman of the committee, is now on the floor. i am going to go chair the commerce committee hearing that is under way as well. i would just like to take a couple of minutes to retrace what i described yesterday. this legislation, the f.a.a. re-authorization act, has been extended 11 times. rather than passing the bill, we
have extended it 11 times. finally, at last, at long, long last, with senator rockefeller and senator hutchison's leadership and the work that i and senator demint did on the aviation subcommittee, we have a bill on the floor. we want to get this bill done. we want to get to conference and finally re-authorize the f.a.a. programs. we're talking about investment in this country in infrastructure. we're talking about jobs. we're talking about aviation safety. and all of that is critically important. i have held i believe either three or four hearings now on the issue of aviation and safety. let me focus just on that for a moment. the skies in this country, particularly with respect to the record of commercial airplanes, are very, very safe. we have a great record with respect to aviation safety. there is no question about that. but we are learning as well along the way. the last accident, commercial aviation accident that occurred in this country tragically killed 49 people on a landing on
a winter evening in icy conditions going into buffalo, new york. now, i have held hearings on that, i have studied it, i have heard the cockpit, i have read the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder. i know a fair amount about that crash, and what i know about that crash is pretty disconcerting to me. let me just describe a few things. that was a dash 8 propeller airplane flying in ice at night. the pilot had not slept in a bed for the two previous evenings. the copilot had not slept in a bed the previous evening. the copilot was a person earning somewhere, i believe, between between $20,000 and $23,000 a year, living in seattle and the work station was flying out of laguardia, new york. that copilot flew all the way from seattle, washington, deadheaded on a fedex jet that landed in memphis, all night long flew to get to the duty station to go to work at laguardia in new york. now, the pilot flew from florida up in order to fly on that
route. but you had two people in the cockpit, according to the testimony at the last hearing i held -- and this was the national transportation safety board -- you had two people in a cockpit in a regional jet, the captain of which had not slept in a bed, there was no record of him sleeping in a bed. he was in the crew lounge where there is no bed at laguardia airport. the captain hadn't slept in a bed for two days. the copilot hadn't slept in a bed for a day. they had inadequate training with respect to stick shakers and other related issues. and the fact is there are a series of things that have now led us to understand. fatigue is an issue. there is a rule making on fatigue right now going on, and administrator babbitt has sent that to the office of management and budget. that's very important. training is an issue. it's critically important. commuting is an issue. i will put up one board and then i will truncate this discussion
because i have to leave. this shows where colgan pilots commuted to go to work. you can see from all over the country they commute to laguardia. there clearly is a fatigue factor, clearly. there has to be some action taken on a range of these issues -- training, fatigue, sterile cockpits which were violated in this flight, training on icing. a whole series of things like that. there is a most wanted list of the national transportation safety board that has said here's what you must do, and that most wanted list i think for 15 or 18 years has had icing and fatigue on that list, and the f.a.a. has not taken appropriate action. so i'm going to speak more about this, but i do have to go spell senator kerry who is now chairing the commerce committee. as i said, senator rockefeller, the chairman of the committee, is here, as is the senator from texas. madaresident, i yield the floor. i make a point of order that a quorum is not present. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll.
a senator: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: madam president, i would request unanimous consent to call off the quorum call. the presiding officer: without objection. is there an objection? without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, madam president. madam president, i'm going to speak about my vitter amendment
numbered 3458, and i'm hopeful that by the time i wrap up the the -- wrap up, the members leading the discussion on this bill will be prepared to make the bill pending so that i can also make my amendment pending. madam president, this amendment is real simple. it's about the coastal impact assistance program, ciap, which was established in the energy policy act of 2005. this program is very important for energy-producing states, and it takes some revenue from that energy production and leaves it in those states to deal with the impacts of that energy production. the problem is that funding was supposed to be distributed to the states from 2007-2010, so the entirety of it was supposed to be distributed by and through this year, but that hasn't been
happening at all because m.m.s. has added a whole additional bureaucratic layer to getting the funding out beyond that which was talked about and established in the statute. so, madam president, my amendment is very simple. it would get rid of that bureaucratic layer, it would still retain oversight, it would still retain all the protections of the statute, but it would streamline the process so that this funding actually gets out to the states as intended. it's way behind. rather than hundred% being distributed to the states by this year, they have only distributed 15%, so obviously we're way, way behind the eight ball, and we would accelerate that. because this funding has already been allocated, has already been taken account of, this amendment does not cost anything, does not score. this is the same money that was
allocated through the ciap program in the energy policy act of 2005. so again, madam president, this streamlines the process, this helps us get back on track in terms of distributing that vital money to coastal states, it doesn't cost anything because all of that money was supposed to be distributed by this year anyway, and this is important. you know, one of the crucial areas that this coastal impact assistance program can help with in my state is related to hurricanes. all sorts of uses, mitigation, emergency preparedness, hurricane evacuation routes related to hurricanes. now, just yesterday, hurricane forecasters predicted, unfortunately, that 2010 was going to be a very severe hurricane season, and so we're
preparing for that in any way we can. the fact that this ciap funding has been blocked, has not gotten to the coastal states, including louisiana, as was intended by 2010, is a real problem in that regard, so we need to do better and this amendment streamlines the process so that we can do better. now, this amendment also retains the oversight mechanism in the underlying bill. as the plain language of ciap in the bill says, if the secretary determines that any expenditure made by a producing state is not consistent with the underlying plan, then the state may not be disbursed any further funds until repayment of the unauthorized use of already obligated funds. so, clearly, there is that mechanism for complete accountability. in addition, a state's ciap plan
has to be approved to begin with by m.m.s., and that has already occurred. so again, madam president, this gets back to the intent of the statute, it gets back to the time line of the stat utah, it streamlines that process so that we can get on with it. hundred% of these funds were supposed to be distributed by 2010. instead, we're at the 15% mark, and that simply isn't good enough when important hurricane and other uses of this money is planned on by vulnerable states like louisiana. with that, madam president, i would yield to the -- i would yield to the handlers of the bill so that the bill may be reported, and then i would like to be recognized again so that my amendment can be made pending. the presiding officer: without
objection, morning business is closed. under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of h.r. 1586, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar numbered 36, h.r. 1586, an act to impose an additional taxes on bonuses received from seen tarp recipients. the presiding officer: the senator from louisiana. mr. vitter: thank you, madam president. now, madam president, i would ask unanimous consent to set aside any pending business if that is necessary and to call up and make pending vitter amendment numbered 3458. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from louisiana, mr. vitter -- mr. vitter: i ask unanimous consent to waive reading of the whole. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. vitter: thank you, madam president. i have already presented the bill as now pending, so with that, madam president, i yield the floor. a senator: madam president?
the presiding officer: the senator from south carolina. mr. demint: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent to temporarily set aside the pending amendment so that i may call up my amendment numbered 3454 which is filed at the desk. the presiding officer: without objection. the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from south carolina, mr. demint, proposes an amendment numbered 3454 to amendment numbered 3452. mr. demint: madam president, i ask that the reading of the amendment be suspended. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. demint: thank you, madam president. my amendment is cosponsored by senators mccain, graham, coburn, grassley, lemieux, feingold. it's an identical bill that has 16 cosponsors, including senator burr, chambliss, cornyn, crapo, johanns, kyl, mccaskill, sessions, a number of others. this is an amendment for a one-year moratorium on earmarks.
the fact that we're even having this debate shows how out of touch congress is with the american people. i've had a chance over the last week to speak to thousands of americans in several states, and you will you have to do to get them on their feet cheering is saying the time for excuses and explanations is over. it is tile to end the practice of earmarking and people will stand up, people of both parti parties. they understand that earmarks are the most offensive form of government spending. they're westfu wasteful pork-bal projects to curry favor to small constituents back home and special interest groups. we've heard the excuses for years. it is time to end this practice. i've introduced in bill before. at the time, president obama was running for the president of the
united states. he flew back to washington to vote on it. he cosponsored the bill with me. and he essentially said the era of earmarks is over. i think we'll see, ace talk asa little bit more, that that has been the opposite of what is true. we've all heard the crazy earmarks that are brought up, the infamous bridge to nowhere. we have things that sound so ridiculous that people don't even believe it's true. the tattoo removal earmark, the totally teen zone earmark in and midnight basketball. you go through the list, and you say, how does this make sense in light of the fact that the same people who are asking for these earmarks come onto this floor, onto the house floor and in the white house and say, our debt is unsustainable. it's crisis. we cannot continue to spend and borrow and create debt.
yet, i need $1 million for a tattoo removal or a bridge to knonowhere or a local museum. the american people are on to us. they know it makes absolutely no sense for us to focus so much time and energy on parochial earmarks for our press releases rather than working on the issues of our country, the general welfare of our nation. all of these projects add up. last year alone, according to the congressional research service, president obama, who said he would not sign bills with earmarks, signed bills with 11,320 earmarks totaling $32 billion for the last fiscal year. that's an increase from $28.8 billion in earmarks from 2008, and $30 billion in earmarks in 2009.
big and small, these earmarks are adding up and are causing our budget to balloon out of control. and they're saddling our children with an overwhelming debt. beyond just the inherent wastefulness of earmarks themselves is the affect that have on spending. wasteful spending is bankrupting our country. the cornhusker kickback being a case study at the top of the list right now. fortunately, it seems that we're making some progress, some headway in putting an end to the favor factory we call earmarks here in washington. just this week "roll call" reported that speaker pelosi is considering an earmark moratorium. additionally, just this morning the house republican conference has unilaterally declared a moratorium on earmarks. this is an exciting first step, and i commend the republican
leadership in the house and all of their members for taking a stand on behalf of the american people on this issue that is so clear and obvious to everyone except many here in washington. it's time for the senate to lead and demand that we stop this wasteful earmark spending. keep in mind, i'm not asking that we end the practice forever. but to take a one-year timeout while we try to figure out thousand create a system that -- how to create a system that is within the scope of the constitution, within the general welfare of our country, and doesn't turn this federal government into some kind of local sponsorship of many local projects. my amendment will do just that. it's very simple. it puts an end to earmarking by prohibiting the consideration of any bill, joint resolution, conference report, or message between the houses that contains
earmarks and will use the same definition currently in the senate rules of what an earmark is. we require a two-thirds supermajority to waive the rules. so if there's some kind of international that we have to designate spending, we can do it if there's a consensus here. president obama, as i said, highlighted the need for this amendment when he cosponsored the identical language in 2008. he rightly stated -- and i quote -- "we can no longer accept a process that doles out earmarks based on a member of congress's seniority rather than the merit of the project." despite his support and election, the problem hasn't gotten any better. citizens against government waste in their 2009 "pig" book, pointed out -- and i quote -- "that while the number of specific projects declined by 12% from 11,610 in fiscal year
2008 to 10,160 in fiscal year 2009, the total tax dollars spent to fund them increased by 14% from $17.2 billion to $19.6 billion. a lot of my colleagues will say, you're making a big deal out of nothing. really, $20 billion or $30 billion is such a small part of our budget that you shouldn't make an issue of it. but this is like saying that an engine is a small part of a train. if you want to look at what's pulling through the bad policy and the overspending, all you have to do is look at earmarks. so we continue the same type of wasteful projects that president obama spoke these words, and we need to stop it and we can stop it. my amendment will put these kinds of things to an end, at least for a year, while we look at it. and what will immediately happen
if we do this? now, we hear the argument here, if we don't designate spending here in congress, the executive branch will. but the first thing we will do if any turn off our own spigot is every appropriations bill would require that the administration only spend money according to nonpreferential formulas or to merit-based competitive grants. weectd bring agrants we could bring an end to earmarking in the executive branch as well as in congress and focus attention on true national interest rather than what we have now, which is nearly 535 congressmen and senators who think it is their job to come to washington to get money for their states and congressional districts. and if you want to know what happens if we allow that to happen, you can look at what's going to be at the end of this year $14 trillion in debt, when people see the federal government as a cow of milk
rather than a constitutional promise. enough is enough. we're not here to get money for our states. we're here to fulfill our oath of office to protect and defend the constitution, a constitution that would not allow money for local bridges and local roads and local museums. all of these are good projects and many are very necessary, but that is not the purpose of the federal government. again, i commend the republican leadership in the house for taking a bold stand against the practice of earmarks. and i challenge my colleagues, republicans and democrats, to vote for this bill that president obama cosponsored and many here voted for so that we can show america that we are listening, that we understand
that per speption i perception . the corruption that take plashings the vote-buying with earmarks, the cornhusker quic kickbacks and the louisiana purchase, all we hear about, that we're going to end this for at least one year. so again, the amendment number is 3454. i encourage my colleagues to support this amendment. and i yield the floor. mrs. hutchison: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from texas. mrs. hutchison: madam president, yesterday we made good progress on the bill that is the underlying bill, which is f.a.a. reauthorization. it is in the interest of the traveling public that we start on the glide path to passing this bill, and we need to make progress on amendments. but, madam president, i have to
ask my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, if they would be very, very careful about offering amendments that are not germane to this bill. the f.a.a. reauthorization is not a legislative vehicle that can carry a lot of it highly controversial provisions. the previous f.a.a. reauthorization expired in 2007. since then, we have passed 11 short-term extensions, and we will be drafting the 12th in the next two weeks because the current extension expires at the end of this month. while another extension is likely inevitable, we have to go to the final bill and see if we have the opportunity to pass a final bill in the next two weeks. the repeated use of short-term f.a.a. extensions does not provide the long-term stability
and funding predictability that we should be giving to our airports, to the traveling public, to the airlines that are looking at what we're going to be doing with airports, and we've got to have a predictable road map if we are going to have sound fiscal investment in our aviation infrastructure and, in turn, aviation safety. senator dorgan mentioned earlier today the many safety provisions that are in this bill in response to the colgan buffalo-ne, buffalo new york accident that happened last year. there are some common things that week all support throughout our country in this bill. it would improve safety, safety of airlines, safety of pilots, safety our traveling public, and especially in the area of human factors that have long been a
challenge for this industry. the bill would modernize our antiquated air traffic control system and move us one step closer to an efficient and effective use of our national airspace. we are not up with many of the other countries around the world in the modernization of our air traftraffic control system. we're back in the 1960's in our technology. this bill would move us toward the satellite-based system that is much more reliable, much more efficient. we need to move forward on it. since 2007 we haven't been able to have a stablized approach ito this because we have been doing these short-term extensions. it woul streamline the approval process for airport projects. the bill would improve rural access to aviation and the economic opportunities that go
along with air service and the bill would provide the function for robust consumer protections and the the disclosure of industry practices. madam president, i support most of the amendments that i have heard being offered. i just don't support them on this bill. and i hope that we will take those up and have the ability to truly argue about those amendments and pass them, if possible. i just hope that we will not jeopardize, once again, a permanent f.a.a. reauthorization that is in the interest of every american that travels on airlines and that thinks that it's important that we have airports for not only peopl people-moving, but project moving. our commercial depend o on a god aviation s i am going to urge my completion on both sides of the
aisle to let us -- i am going to urge my completion on both sides of the aisle to let us go to cloture on this. let us assure that the traveling public is going to at least have a bill that will move us one step toward this. this -- this bill is not an easy bill. my colleague, the distinguished chairman of the committee, knows that we have hammered out a los- hammered out a lot of differences already. we have differences with the house on this bill as well. the senate is in pretty much agreement on the fundamentals of what is in this bill. on both sides of the aisle and my colleague, senator demint, who just offered an amendment, is actually the chairman of the subcommittee -- the ranking member of the subcommittee on aviation. so he knows that this bill is a good bill that has been hammered out and it will be the senate position. but extraneous amendments regardless of our view on the amendment's
substance will kill this bill, and i think it is in our best interest and certainly our responsibility to put this bill forward for the interest of the traveling public. and i am going to urge my colleagues to work with us to have their ability for their amendments to come up and be debated and voted on. and i'm going to support everything i've heard so far. but i hope that we will keep this bill on aviation, on aviation security, on airport infrastructure, on modernization of our air traffic control system, because that's what our job is and that's what this bill is about. i hope that our colleagues will come forward with their aviation-related amendments, of which there are several that are certainly worthy of our discussion. and let's move through those. but i hope that we will limit
the extraneous amendments and try to move this bill in an skpe dishes and -- expeditious and commonsense way. thank you, madam president. i yield the floor. mr. rockefeller: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i have nine unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session of the senate. they have been approved by the majority and minority leaders. i ask unanimous consent that these requests be agreed to and these request be printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. rockefeller: and then just one more on what my distinguished colleague, senator hutchison said. i completely and totally agree, this is kind of a feast, i guess, for some who want to bring all their frustrations about government down and put it under the aviation authorization bill. it is so frustrating because we've been working on this for
so long. there have been 11 days on this. we're not able to go forward with anything. and if they keep doing what they're doing with extraneous amendments, we have no hope for this bill. but what they need to consider is that as they take down our bill, which is really important for the nation, they'll take down their amendments should they prevail as well. so that it doesn't make any sense. i'm so proud, as always, of the senator from texas and her work to try to get rid of extraneous amendments, discourage those and work on federal aviation. this is very, very important stuff. and i yield the floor, and i know that the senar fm kansas wants to speak. mr. roberts: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: madam president, i rise today to join my colleagues in support of this
bipartisan agreement. yes, there is a bipartisan agreement in regards to this bill. it can be done; reached by the senate finance and commerce committees on the reauthorization of the federal aviation administration and airport and airway trust fund, i.e., the rockefeller substitute amendment number 3452. i thank chairman rockefeller for his leadership. he's right, we need to move this bill. he referred to the 11 times it's been delayed. i've been working on this bill for four years, aeupbd know he has been -- and i know he has been working very hard, very diligently and we have a workable compromise. i think it represents the true meaning of that word and shows what is possible when we roll up our sleeves and really go to work together. special thanks to chairman baucus and ranking member grassley and to senator rockefeller and all of his staff and all of senator baucus' staff, everybody's staff that's been working on this.
in 2006, at my invitation, then-secretary of state of transportation mary peters joined me and congress todd t hart from the fourth district of kansas, local officials, all sorts of representatives from the aviation businesses in wichita for a round table discussion about the importance of aviation to kansas and the country. we then toured cessna's manufacturing lines to see firsthand an example of the great work of kansans who build over 50% of the world's general aviation aircraft. reauthorizing the f.a.a. and the airport airway trust fund is not only a top national priority, but obviously to me, senator brownback and the kansas delegation, a top kansas priority. we tried to pass this bill two years ago, and at that time 40,000 employees were in wichita and the surrounding counties, and they made their living building planes, manufacturing parts and s-fg aeuf -- servicing
aviation. now, unfortunately after delay and delay and delay due to the rough economic climate and conditions, that number has dropped to just over 25,000. that's a tremendous decrease with an awful lot of hurt for a lot of families in kansas. kansas is home to nearly 3,200 aviation and manufacturing businesses, including cessna, learjet, boeing, spirit, aerosystems, and honey well to name a few. however, aviation isn't simply an economic engine in kansas. it's part of our history, our way of life, most importantly, part of our future. it's an example of our entrepreneurial spirit. so throughout this debate, i want to point out that general aviation has been called to increase its contribution to the airport and airway trust fund to help pay for what ever knows needs to happen: the
modernization of our air traffic control system. all along the way general aviation has stepped up to the plate and agreed to help pay for the necessary increases to move our aviation infrastructure into next generation technology. madam president, i cannot recall a time when any industry has come to me and said, "we want to help, and we are willing to the support and increase 65%, by the way, in our taxes to do so," but that is what the general aviation community did. their only request is they be able to pay through the current efficient and effective tax structure of the fuel tax. the agreement reached between the commerce and finance committees respects this request and allows the general aviation community to be part of the modernization solution without creating a new bureaucracy or
any additional red tape. this raises an additional $113 million dedicated to updating the air traffic control technology that will increase safety and decrease congestion. at the same time our commercial airlines and passengers are held harmless from tax increases. so, again, i'm pleased that this agreement recognizes the value of both commercial aviation and general aviation to our nation's transportation system. i realize there have been strong feelings on both sides of this debate for a considerable number of years. my goals as we draft the bill were very clear: one, ensure that our air traffic control system is upgraded and remains safe for all passengers and aircraft. secondly, protect the general aviation community and kansas jobs which would have been threatened by a new user fee. this legislation represents the best of a bipartisan compromise and a real effort to make our
skies safer. i'm very proud to be part of this compromise as our tens of thousands of workers employed in kansas and aviation manufacturing. our state has always been and remains the air capital of the world, and under this agreement it will continue. i thank my colleagues for helping us reach a compromise that will maintain our world standing. i am very hopeful, madam president, that the senate will continue to work in this spirit of bipartisanship on this bill. senator brownback yesterday in his remarks, senator rockefeller in his remarks a while ago, senator hutchison made these same comments, we need to move quickly to a conference committee and eventually have a bill signed into law before the current program expires. i know, i know that when a train moves, everybody wants to put their car on the train. but let's try to keep extraneous amendments. i don't mind senators at all talking about their concerns, whether it be, i understand
education, gay marriage, earmarks. i would expect we'd hear a lot of speeches on earmarks. but if we can keep this bill the way it is and move this bill and then there will be another train. i'll have kansas general aviation provide aircraft for a more speedy amendment to go to the house if that's the case. let's try to keep our extraneous amendments, if we can, despite our strong feelings, off of this bill, and let's get something done that's been languishing here for four years, and probably longer than that. i kwr-p the balance of my time -- i yield back the balance of my time, madam president. mr. rockefeller: madam president? the presiding officer: the senator from west virginia. mr. rockefeller: i thank the senator from kansas for his very cogent remarks. and kansas probably is the airplane center of the country, if not the world.
but the point he really makes is that it's bipartisan the and that we've been working on it a long time, and that, you know, anybody can come down and offer extraneous amendments. we don't preclude that in our system over here. under the senate rules, it's possible. under the senate rules, it's also possible to make extraneous amendments unacceptable and unactionable. and i think what we want to do is try to avoid some of those processes. but i know that the leaders on both sides are trying to figure out a way to deal with this problem of extraneous amendments. if it has to do with aviation, we're all for it. if people simply want to talk about subjects that they care about but not offer amendments, that's fine. if you want to offer aviation amendments, please come forward. those are important. but this is a three- to four-year effort we've been on trying to do an aviation bill.
the presiding officer certainly understands the consequences of aviation delays and all the rest of it. it's something that we have to do as a country, and we cannot dally. and this is not the senate acting in its finest tradition. and we have a chance to change that, and i hope that the members will cooperate in that effort. i thk the chair and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mr. gregg: thank you, madam president. i ask unanimous consent that i speak as if in morning business for 10 minutes. the presiding officer: the senate is now in a quorum call. mr. gregg: i make a point of order that the quorum be set aside. a senator: madam president, may i just ask -- mr. gregg: madam president? a senator: no objection to releasing the quorum call. the presiding officer: the senator from new hampshire. mr. gregg: does the senator -- without losing the floor, does the senator which to speak? a senator: i ask that after your remarks that i be recognized. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. gregg: madam president, i ask unanimous consent that i be allowed to speak as if in morning business for 10 minutes. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. gregg: madam president, i want to rise to discuss the issues of fiscal policy, which
we've talked about a little bit around here, but which we're not focusing on, in my opinion, with the intensity that we should. and the fact that we're now seeing in europe, the meltdown of a major state ale financial situation, -- state's financial situation, greece. greece has become a precursor for many other nations in the world, industrialized nations, which are finding themselves grossly overextended in the amount of debt that they put in their books. as a result in the situation of greece, incapable of repaying their national debt or what is known as their sovereign debt. fortunately the european community has rallied around and tried to stablize the situation. but that shouldn't -- the fact that the situation may be stablized, should not allow us to take much solace. because this is not a unique problem to brees. to -- greece. as you look at the debt levels of a large number of nations in